Nicaragua's Ortega casts vote in controversial elections

Nicaraguans went to the polls on Sunday in a vote the U.S. called a sham whose outcome has long been determined.

President Daniel Ortega was set to win re-election after the 75-year-old had jailed top rivals, including seven presidential hopefuls, business leaders, journalists and

even some of his old rebel allies.

U.S President Joe Biden blasted the Nicaraguan leader and described it as a "pantomime election that was neither free nor fair."

Ortega is a onetime revolutionary who helped depose the right-wing Somoza family dictatorship in the late 1970s.

He's already the Americas' longest-serving leader, with 15 consecutive years in power, and has ruled alongside his wife since early 2017.

Last week, U.S. officials said new sanctions were being considered against the couple's government.

Neighbor Costa Rica rejected the vote as undemocratic and people took to the streets to protest the elections.

Prolonged social and political unrest in Nicaragua has sent exiles to Costa Rica and added to the already growing ranks of Central American migrants.

Tens of thousands of Nicaraguans have fled the country since 2018 when Ortega's government cracked down violently on peaceful protests, leaving hundreds dead.

Nicaraguans reaching the U.S. border this year have already hit a high of about 50,000, according to official data.

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